Northumberland rural estate purchased

We have purchased Rio Tinto's 4,500 acre Alcan Farms agricultural land portfolio in Northumberland.

24 February 2014

Ellington farms onshore wind turbines

The purchase includes agricultural land, farm buildings, 19 homes, and an operational 13 turbine wind farm leased to Scottish Power Renewables. Under new ownership, the portfolio will now be known as the Ellington estate and form part of our 146,000 hectare (360,000 acre) rural land portfolio; one of the largest in the UK.

The deal is an example of our approach to managing our Rural portfolio which involves actively trading in the rural land market and exploring opportunities to drive returns through the diversification of our estate.

The purchase of the Ellington estate is indicative of our business-wide strategy which focuses our investment activities on our core sectors where we have critical mass and specialist expertise; rural land, offshore renewables, central London real estate and prime regional retail and leisure assets.

Ken Jones, Director of the Rural and Coastal Portfolio said: "The Ellington estate is fantastic addition to our portfolio, which is particularly attractive because it presents a diverse range of income sources. Our expertise in this sector puts us in a great position to take advantage when opportunities like this come to the market and we will continue to utilise our specialist skills to explore future investments and drive value from our assets."

The estate has been managed by Alcan Farms Ltd since 1972 after the land was acquired by Rio Tinto as part of the development of the former Lynemouth aluminium smelter. The portfolio was put up for sale following the closure of the smelter in March 2012. The eight Rio Tinto employees that work on the farm will receive a comprehensive package of outplacement support before and after their redundancy takes effect in June 2014.

Jon Storr, director of Alcan Farms Limited, said: "The sale to The Crown Estate ensures the land will continue to be managed and farmed to the highest standards into the future. Just as we did with the former smelter employees, we will provide the farm workforce with extensive practical support to help them take the next steps in their careers."

The Crown Estate's rural portfolio includes forest and farm land, together with minerals and residential and commercial property. Our rural land holdings are part of a wider £8.1 billion portfolio which includes Regent Street and much of St James's in London's West End, one of the country's largest collections of prime regional retail and leisure assets, around half of the UK's foreshore and almost the entire seabed.